We're taking the week off to prepare for our July 4th Holiday with our families. We hope you enjoy this special from our first year of the podcast where we introduced many of you to Dr. Jim Tew. Jim cohosts the Honey Bee Obscura podcast with Kim and...
We're taking the week off to prepare for our July 4th Holiday with our families. We hope you enjoy this special from our first year of the podcast where we introduced many of you to Dr. Jim Tew. Jim cohosts the Honey Bee Obscura podcast with Kim and is a long time contributor to our lead sponsor, Bee Culture.
We hope you have a safe and enjoyable long holiday weekend.
We invited (mostly retired) Dr. James Tew to the podcast to share with us some of his beekeeping experiences and observations. Jim brings an insightful and sometimes humorous perspective from how he got into bees... and how a bee once got into him! Jim has retired from the Ohio State University Ag Extension in Wooster, Ohio and still lives and cares for his own bees in the area.
Kim wraps up the show with his Inner Covered.
We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.
Thank you for listening!
Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:
We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer service, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com
This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help ensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode!
Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their sponsorship of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry. Check them out today!
Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com
We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular podcast featuring interviews with leading bee and insect researchers in the world of pollination, hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.
We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments in the show notes of this episode or: email@example.com
Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com
Thank you for listening!
Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott
Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC
Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news information and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.
Kim Flottum: And I'm Kim Flottum.
Global Patties: Hey, Jeff and Kim today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. It's a good time to think about honey bee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Now is great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honey bees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff: Thanks Sherry. Thank you, Global Patties. Each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor support, and we know you'd rather we get right to talking about beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen from the transcripts, the hosting fees, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.
Hey everybody. Thanks for joining us, we're really happy you're here. Before we get started, just a quick reminder to subscribe or follow Beekeeping Today Podcast and give us a five star rating, it really does help. Also, we are now adding complete transcripts of each episode on the website after the show notes, check them out. You can also leave questions and comments online under each show. You can leave a comment, ask a question, reply to a question as our listeners. Click on leave a comment at the top of the episodes show notes to join the discussion.
Have you listened to an episode and thought, "That person sounds really interesting and I'd like to know more about them?" Well, now you can. Each episode links to a guest profile. Each profile has a guest photo, bio, contact information, including Instagram and Twitter details if they have them. Check it out. Finally, share the podcast with your beekeeping friends, email them links, or mention it at your next beekeeper meeting.
Happy July 4th everybody. We hope you are enjoying the holiday with your family and friends. In fact, we are too, and therefore presenting this beekeeping today podcast archive special with our very first discussion with Dr. James Tew way back in 2018.
If that name sounds familiar to you, it should. Jim has joined us on several occasions and Kim has been working with him for years. Just over a year ago. Jim and Kim started to produce a new podcast called Honey Bee Obscura. On that podcast, they discuss all things honey bees, no topic is off limits. It's a shorter format than Beekeeping Today Podcast with most of the episodes lasting just under 20 minutes. If you haven't heard Honey Bee Obscura, give yourself a treat and check it out wherever you listen to your podcast or directly from the website at www.honeybeeobscura.com.
Also while I'm at it. I'll mention Jim has just started to produce small video moments focused on the Weeks's topic from Honey Bee Obscura. These are short videos where Jim explains the concepts, provides illustration, and delivers additional information on the podcast topic. Check them out on YouTube, then follow and subscribe to it while you're there. Finally, our friend, Dr. Kirsten Traynor has released a new episode on her 2 Million Blossoms Podcast with her discussion with Dr. Lars Chittka regarding his book, The Mind of the Bee. Lars book and his research are definitely fascinating and will leave you pondering just what your bees are thinking the next time you crack open the top of their hive.
Thank you for listening. Let's get to our archive special Dr. Jim Tew, and his lessons learned discussion. First, a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials who have just released a new product, SuperDFM Extend.
StrongMicrobials: Hello, beekeepers, your honey bees face a lot of challenges out there. Unbalanced food sources for monoculture crops, holding yards, drought, food shortages, antibiotics, pesticides, and pathogens like chalkbrood. To overcome these challenges, your bees need the multiple bacteria that are in all nectars, pollens, and the environment. These bacteria aid honey bee's digestion and improve your honey bee's response and resilience to pesticides. Now you can help improve your honey colony health with a quick, easy and safe to use product. Strong Microbials, super DFM honey bee uses naturally occurring bacteria to restore the healthy gut biome of your honey bees. Check them out today at www.strongmicrobials.com.
Kim: We're here today with Dr. Jim Tew retired extension specialist from the Ohio State University.
Jeff: I'm really looking forward to this interview. I met Dr. Tew, met him back at the end of the '80s, when I took a 3 day beekeeping course from him there at the extension in Wooster. I think it was one of the best training sessions I've ever taken.
Kim: He's been writing for my magazines longer than I have, so he's got even more history with Bee Culture than I do. It'll be fun to talk to him.
Jeff: Well, that's great. I'm looking forward to it. Let's call him up right now. Well, we here now with Dr. James Tew. Jim has been gracious to join us this afternoon at Beekeeping today podcast. Welcome Jim.
Jim: Thanks a lot. I'm really happy to be here. This is a new format for me, so I'm enjoying doing it.
Jeff: We're having a great time with the podcast and and it's going over pretty well too.
Kim: It's good to see you again, Jim. We've been doing our webinars for a while, and of course you've been writing for us forever, so I look forward to chatting a little bit more today.
Jim: Well, it is odd Kim, for as much as we talk to each other, that we don't talk this about beekeeping. We talk about plans and whatever so I'm keen to go here. I'm keen to go.
Kim: We get to talk to other people, but not to each other.
Jim: All right.
Jeff: All that we need now is a couple cigars and beers and we could just have a regular beekeeping meeting or something.
Jim: That I understand. I'm good for it.
Jeff: Well, Jim-- Go ahead, Kim.
Kim: Jim, one of the things we wanted to do today, just to give people who haven't been around as long as you and I have been, is, if you would, give us a brief background history of your time at Ohio State University and some of the adventures that you got into there.
Jim: Yes. I'll be happy to do some reminiscing. I need to tell you, I really didn't mean to get into beekeeping, it just happened. I was keen to become an entomologist and I didn't really know which aspect of entomology. All those years ago, pesticide is where the money was. I fiddled around with that for a while and I almost by accident took a bee class and then that fired me off to this day.
Kim: I'd always thought that you had a family background in beekeeping, but that's not the case.
Jim: No, I really didn't. I wish I could boldly say, yes, my great grandfather. My family background in beekeeping was tormenting all stinging insects with a BB gun or a stone and then running, because it was all very exciting. I kept going to school and I kept going to school and I was crazy for bees. I really didn't mean to be an academician of any kind. I really meant to be a beekeeper. I really meant to just know all I could about bees. Then one day you wake up and you realize that your wife's paid for this, and she's been very patient and your dad's told you, "Jim, you can't make a living with your hobby."
So you think, "Wow, I got to do something with life." I was lucky enough to get a job at Ohio State. At first I taught commercial beekeeping in a program that's not taught there anymore. That was during the days when killer bees were just running crazy and varroa mites were killing everything so that program struggled at that time.
Jeff: Was that still from Wooster? Everything from Wooster, or were you down in Columbus?
Jim: No, I've never been in Columbus. I was always in Wooster. They have a large agricultural campus here in Worcester, Ohio. Ohio state does. A lot of agriculture is about a hundred miles away from the Columbus campus. Here in Worcester, quiet place. I never meant to stay at Ohio State, they know that. I thought I'd come here and work three years or so and maybe go back someplace where my accent would fit better. Things come and go and financial exigencies arise and recessions and then you're lucky to have a job at all. Then by the time everything is good, you got kids in school and your wife has got a job teaching in high school and it's going to cost too much to move.
I had a great time. I worked at Ohio State 36 years. I worked with the Africanized Bee program from Ohio State out of Washington DC, so we roamed all over and got involved in that. Since bees are always eccentric, I got a grant to do a satellite series. We thought then that satellites were going to be the way of the world in the 90's, just to.. . Actually, '96 doesn't seem like a long time ago to me, but I know some of the listeners weren't even born in 96.
We bounced things off satellite dishes and we traveled all over. It was a young mans project, we had to do this thing on Wednesday night. Then by the next afternoon, at 3:00, we would be over in Beltsville, Maryland, 200 or 300 miles away interviewing people there for the next Wednesday night. One of the last things though that I use some of that video experience, a good friend of mine, John Grafton and I, got some money to do a video series for the Ohio State Beekeeping. You want to go onto the OSBA website and have a look at that, there's a lot of beginning segments there that range anywhere from 3 or 4 minutes to 10 minutes. Have a look at all the beginners stuff.
I retired from Ohio State after 36 years, but I didn't retire from beekeeping. I still serve as a contract professor for Auburn University, and I teach a class at the University of Maryland.
Jeff: That's great.
Jim: I'm still involved.
Jeff: Well, I was looking under Amazon and you have a couple books out there too. They're still available actually, The Beekeeper's Problem Solver: 100 Common Problems Explored and Explained. Now, if any listeners want that, there's only eight left in stock, so you want to order soon. Another book is Wisdom for Beekeepers: 500 Tips for Successful Beekeeping. There's only one left of that edition. That's great, you have a couple of books out there?
Jim: Yes. I need to thank Kim for that. He gave me a door opening to that. I probably never would've been able to do that, but he had an in and he offered it to me and I took it, so thank you, Kim.
Kim: We were happy to help Jim.
Jeff: That's great.
Jeff: I think I took my first beekeeping class from you down in Wooster. It had to been before my daughter was born, so it was 86 or 87. It was a three-day course, two-day course, weekend course.
Jim: Yes, we tried all formats, you're right. I came to Wooster in 78. 87 was almost 10 years by then. We did queen production honey bee classes. Queen production and management programs. For a while, we took international tours and went to China, and Australia, and New Zealand, and roamed the world. I had a nice time. I have no complaints at all, even though I didn't intend to spend my life here, it worked out well. I could have found worse places to spend my life, I guess.
Kim: That's good. That's real good. You and I got involved in doing some video work down the-- You and I and Bob Smith, if you remember that, we did some series.
Jim: Oh, yes, I do remember that. He was a good friend of mine and yours, and we shot video. He was actually on that China trip, and shot a lot of video there. A lot has come and gone, I need to tell Auburn University, I appreciate them. I've worked for them 25 years and I don't want to leave them out talking about Ohio State so much. They've been really good to me, and the Beekeepers of Alabama have been very supportive. Here I am.
Kim: Tell us what you do in Auburn, Jim.
Jim: The primary thing that I've built there is rather-- It's not large by today's standards, but it's certainly a large bee meeting in Alabama. Every February for the last, I think 24, 25 years or so we've had a workshop there and we've grown to about 600 to 700 participant. It'll be February the first in the middle of the state, Clanton, Alabama.
Kim: Sounds like a good meeting.
Jim: I mentioned this iBook, or maybe I didn't mention it. If you look on the web, under Backyard Beekeeping and use my name, there's a book there, it's free, 36 pages long for beginner beekeepers. It's not in print anymore, and it's being converted to an iBook and it'll be out within nine months, maybe a year, so be patient. You'll be able to take that off the web, read the book. It'll be a free resource, if you want to get involved in that.
Betterbee: Hey, have you thought about helping your bees protect themselves as you head into fall? Yes, it's that time when robbing frenzy start and your local nectar flow ends. If you add a robber screen, it stops unwelcome bees from entering your hives and it can prevent the spread of varroa mites and the transmission of varroa mite diseases. For podcast listeners only, Betterbee has teamed up with Bee Smart Designs to offer a free Bee Smart Designs Robber Screen with any product purchase through October 1st, 2022. Simply use the code PROTECT at checkout to get your free robber screen.
Kim: You're still a beekeeper, and all the things that you've done, that you just talked about certainly, has an influence on that, but like everybody else you get in a bee yard and you're on your own. I know that you and I have looked into installing packages, and we are going to come back and examine those packages a little bit later on the Jim and Kim Show. Share some of the things that have gone wrong and spectacularly right in bee yards with you over the years, because somebody with that many years of experience can certainly share a lot of wisdom to some people who are just getting started. Things to do, things not to do. I guess we mellow a little bit when we look back on some of these things, but some of them are still incredibly interesting. What have you got on some of those?
Jim: Well, I was thinking when you gave me all this credit for all this wisdom and all this list, I can give you a long list of mistakes and things I wouldn't recommend doing. I would never recommend stepping on your own queen, I have done that. I knew I did that because like I said the red dot that was on her thorax, stuck in the soul of my shoe.
Jeff: [laughs] I'm not laughing at you, Jim, I'm laughing with you.
Jim: I understand. You do have things that happen. This beekeeping thing is an eccentric business. If you just look at it objectively, most people run and scream and finally get away from bees, except those of us who want to know more about what's going on. In that be yard back there, I do, I still work a lot. It's right out here behind me, I got a fence up, so my neighbors don't know everything that I'm doing back there. I spend some quality time back there.
The older I've gotten, I've moved away from honey production, because that stuff is heavy. As my eyes, they've become to give me more and more of a challenge. I don't raise as many Queens as I used to, but I keep bees. I make some honey. I pick up some swarms. I'm still fulfilled by that. This technology we're doing right now and video pieces that could go along with it, I really enjoy doing that. It freshens all aspects of beekeeping. How many packages do you need to put in before you've been there done that, but if you add a camera to it or a microphone to it, then all of a sudden that particular package day is different.
Those things back there in the bee yard, they bounce around all of this. You talk about queens and all that goes wrong with them, and you can talk about the thing that makes beekeeping beekeeping and that's things. They can always light you up. They can just destroy all of your humility. You can stand at a public place and beat yourself severely about the head and neck, the whole time saying, "I'm an accomplish beekeeper. I know what I'm doing." Nothing makes you young again like a bee inside your veil.
I was recording a small piece with the video and one lone bee came over and began to buzz around my nose and my mouth, and I captured me unintentionally, swatting and swinging and trying to knock that bee not swallow her. When I looked at it, I thought, "What a dummy you are. You look terrible." I erased that video. I guess now I'm sorry that I did. The thing Kim is talking about. One of those things 100 years ago, a young woman on Friday afternoon, late with a small kid came over to the bee lab. Yes, I was leaving. I walked out the door and ran into her. She said, but I show her daughter the bees. Her daughter was three. I didn't want to. I tried to put her off, but there's no putting her off.
I had a 4-frame nuc right beside the University of Maryland, apiary steps there. Against all my better judgment, I took my veil and put on the little girl and I could tie the strings around her ankles. I had managed the mom to back up using no smoke and no veil, just a hive tool. I opened that 4-fame nuc, and I got through it. I showed drones. I showed bees. I don't think I found the queen, but just as I was closing down, Jeff, it's always the one you're not expecting, it's the one that had the idea. This guys is a real dumb butt, I've had it with him. That bee took off, I didn't see her leave, but I didn't know when she flew right up my right nostril.
Jim: Well, of course you know what happened at that point. I did not know that when you're stung in your right nostril your knees give out, and then when your knees give out, you're at eye-level with that little girl and her eyes were as big as the bottom of coffee cups. Off to one side, the mom was shouting at both of us, "Is everything all right? Is everything okay?" I was crying profusely, and then before that little girl, and I pulled the biggest thing out of my nose that she had ever seen come out of an adult man's nose. So I brush through that, because as I'm telling it, my eyes begin to water again, and it happened 30 years ago.
I tell you for a fact that that little girl who's now a full-grown woman and probably has kids of her own, and this woman has grandkids by now, and I can tell you, they're not keeping bees. They are not keeping bees, for the spectacle that I put on. I'm rattling around in that because I still do deeply enjoy beekeeping. I shop around. You write a book, or you make a picture, or you do a video, or you make a split, or you put in one of these hive monitoring gadgets, or you go give a talk. There's always so much you can do in beekeeping.
Kim said, "What do you do in that backyard?" I just do whatever comes to mind. I will tell you this, I don't cut much grass, I don't paint much equipment. I don't have the energy for it. The bees don't seem to mind. So I keep things looking unkept, if that makes sense. I don't have a nicely mowed bee yard. I'll let the bees be bees, and I'll let me be an old man back there.
Jeff: [chuckles] I think for here on out I'll never open up a veil with any spectators.
Kim: Smart move, Jeff. Smart move. It's always inviting trouble. You can do it 100 times and not have a problem, and the minute there's a camera on or a witness things go wrong. Jim, but you know one of the other things that you've been involved in, I know over the years, back when, and this is like I say reminiscing, but it does have some lessons learned here, is moving bees at night. I know that you've mentioned some adventures are there, but it's coming up pollination season, or already is for a lot of people. If you're going to give some oversight, some advice on what do you got that might help somebody who is thinking of doing that?
Jim: I do have some comments on that, you cannot be too prepared. You need multiple strikers to lighting smokers. You need multiple smokers, because you're going to lay one down in the dark, and then you're going to have to go back and find your flashlight, and if you drop the flashlight, you need a second flashlight maybe to find that one. So you probably almost need to go in with almost double everything. Then strange things go wrong.
One night that I was working bees and moving bees and the dew fell, and the truck and the trailer were going slightly uphill and then the truck wouldn't move because the grass had become wet. When you pull into the yard even think about how you're going to get that trailer, if you're pulling one, or how the truck's going to angle out when you're in that situation. We're doing this in Alabama sometimes, be aware that you're not the only thing out there, there's venomous snakes in the area, and black widow spiders. It's okay if you're a little bit jumpy and put that flashlight on everything, and of course, you want it to have fresh batteries and keep going.
I'll finish on this note. I have run over smokers in the dark, you can't see them, and you're trying to get out of there because the bees are loaded and daylight is coming. So you need to go in as prepared as you can possibly be. No, propolis will not hold hives together during a bee move. Don't ever fall for that. Strap them, staple them, nail them, or something, but never say it's a quick move a propolis will hold it together, I haven't opened this hive in three months. The propolis won't hold it together. It's going to be miserable.
Kim: Good advice. I know everybody who has moved bees at least once has learned most of those lessons, and hopefully you've learned them well enough so that you move them again. One of the other things is, just the world of beekeeping that has evolved since you started. When you look at it today the honey market and and the pollination business and the rules and regulations. Take a half a step back and can you give me an overview of from where you came, what we're looking at today, and what you seen maybe down the road?
Jim: In my earliest years, and I'm not like 100 years old, but this has happened fairly quickly and in real time. When I started, honey was king, or queen, or premiere, or whatever. It was intriguing to watch it flip, to watch the entire industry flip and pollination become king, queen, or premiere, or whatever. That's happened. If you're not in the pollination business as either a sideliner or commercial beekeeper, you're probably doing something else that's creative, but the money right now is in pollination. That was intriguing to live through, to that big change where pollination drives the bee industry.
Now, we still make honey and honey is still in good demand. We import a lot, we can't meet our own requirements, and as the bee populations have declined, and as we've gotten better at destroying what's lovingly known as weeds, nectar sources and pollen sources the the honey supplies have declined too. If you can make local honey with a local label it usually sells very well. There's still a good strong demand for honey. That's been enjoyable. The thing I really want to discuss, is not just the honey pollination flip, but it's been the incredible number of new people and new organizations that have come into beekeeping.
In the early days, I basically knew everybody in the room, and I don't know anybody now. You go in and you're this old guy, "What's he here for? Is he the industry historian or what?" That has been really intriguing, and I'm glad that I had enough life's energy to participate in this and see this change that was coming. It was really dark, Kim. You don't need me telling you, but it was dark during the killer bee years and the introduction and establishment of varroa mites. It was seriously dark when commercial guys were losing their operations to varroa and the public was terrified of Africanized bees.
To see all that change now and all the new groups and the new agencies and their commitment to beekeeping. We will never go back to where we were. One of the things I know just has to happen, even in my yard I've got some of those scale devices, and what's that device called, Kim, that Wi-Fi sends you information?
Kim: The HiveTracks?
Jim: HiveTracks. HiveTracks, and the actual device.
Kim: Yes, BroodMinder and the Arnia.
Jim: BroodMinder. Yes, BroodMinder. I really believe that we're living in the twilight of just a common wood box beehive. I just can't help but believe that in the next 5 to 10 years, that wood box, that rigid polyester styrofoam hotbox is going to be just as electronified as you can hope to imagine with your tracking devices in the hives, and monitors, and readouts. I hope I can stay active long enough to see pheromone sensing. You put an app on your phone or something and you walk up and you just take a sniff, and you can tell varroa populations, or the issue of the day. Beekeeping is really evolved nicely to stay current.
I always compare bluebirds. I tried to keep bluebirds. What a pain that is? I basically ended up just having bluebirds murdered by house sparrows. If you compare how beekeeping has evolved and has grown and kept current, even in the face of all these issues, when other environmental issues have just taken a beating. Something as common as lightning bolts. It's been good to see beekeeping thrive the way it has after we went through such a low period.
Kim: Yes, it was, and with the magazine, I remember going through all of that, trying to keep an upbeat tone and keep people interested and keep people informed. You were certainly instrumental in that. A lot of what you did was instrumental in giving people good information. It's interesting that you bring this up because I look at now looking back, you and the people that were writing for us were the technology of the day. We were the information deliverer, you were the source of the information, and keeping people up to speed as much as possible. We've done this a couple of times now in different ways. We got people who are generating information, people who are transferring it, and always people who can use it. It's been a fun ride so far.
Jeff: It's also interesting to contrast it with, on one end of the spectrum we have the new technology, the Hive Minders, the HiveTracks, the Arnias, the satellite sensing, the palette trackers, all of that. Then on the other side, you have people experimenting-- I shouldn't say experimenting, but using top bar hives, and going to that end of the technology spectrum, if you will. It's really fun. It's inclusive of everyone. It's not everyone is in the 10-frame box anymore, so it's fun.
Jim: Just to say you're a beekeeper is like saying, "I'm an automobile." There are so many different kinds and models of cars that are all automobiles, and there's so many different kinds of people who are beekeepers. Since I don't have much to lose any more, my wife and I just went ziplining out in Yellowstone. Of course, your tied in five ways some breakfast, all you can do is have a heart attack, but nothing else is going to go wrong, I hope. The woman who was lacing me up and taking care of me was a young woman, perfectly physically fit. On the inside of her right arm, she had a honey bee tattooed. Well, I was all over that, "Are you a beekeeper?" She said, "No, I'm really not." She said, "I just really like bees, and their lifestyle, and what they do for the environment. They're such a pivotal species. I respect them a lot."
I said, "Well, do you ever plan on having bee colonies?" She said, "Well, sometime I might, but not right now." That woman is one of these people, she likes bees but she doesn't have any beehives. She went as far as to get a tattoo or ink or whatever you call it today, tattoo in my day, I don't know what it is now, and carry around a lifelong mark on her arm but yet not really keep bees. It's really hard to define what a beekeeper is today. Topper hive, electronic person, high school teacher, commercial beekeeper. It's all over the page on how many ways you can enjoy and be involved in the bee world and meet your personal needs.
Jeff: That's really good. It's good for all of us, good for the environment, good for all beekeepers, more awareness we have. Beekeepers are no longer the laugh track in a comedy or the beekeeper with the veil. Now, it's more tied to the environment, and awareness, and sustainability. That's good.
Jim: I don't use a lot of herbicides on my lawn so I have clover. Of course, my neighbors have beautiful lawns, and there's me in the middle of all this. One neighbor inquisitively said, "You must be growing all this clover for your bees." My wife said, "No, he's just not putting out herbicide. The clover comes in naturally." The neighbor thought that I was planting clover in my lawn to feed my bees. Of course, the clover in my acre of lawn about make about a third of a teaspoon maybe of honey, but other people have a perception now of what beekeepers are doing and why they're doing it. That's been rewarding.
Kim: It's been good to see that evolution. In some of our earlier podcasts during pollinator week, Jim, we were talking to some of the people who are involved in providing more forage for bees. Everybody and their brothers first piece of information is, "Let your lawn go, grow some flowers for bees, feed a bee, grow a flower," sort of thing. That brings me up to something you've been writing about recently. How's your pollinator garden doing?
Jim: Well, that's one do real well once I get it tilled up, I got the grass killed. I'm working on a really nice pollinator garden for next year. That's how it's working now. I have the seed bought, I paid a lot of money for seed, and I did plant some. What I had in mind was just to kill part of my grass. I think you said, "Till it twice and spray it twice. Then just jump in the deep end of the pool." I've done this once before, but I don't know what to do with a pollinator garden when it's not in bloom when it's getting scruffy. Do we mow it down and replant it or does it reseed itself, or do you leave it with an unkept look?
I hope all these questions are answered, and I hope that having such gardens becomes more and more routine as the next year or so passes. Instead of people like me not really knowing how to keep it looking fresh so that the neighbors don't think you've just totally lost your mind.
Kim: I'm going to interrupt you. One of the things that scrubby period when there's some gloominess, when they're making the seats for next year, don't get too carried away, the neighbors not withstanding. Jeff, I'm going to interlude here. Coming up on July 21st, 2018, Bee Culture Magazine pollinator day at the Root Company, it's in Medina, Ohio. You can see announcement for it on our webpage and in our magazine. We're going to have 11 gardens out there this year. We've got seed companies we're testing. We've got the pollinator partnership people. We've got master gardeners. We've got feeder bee gardens. We've got a lot to look at. We'll have soil and water there. We have a lot of people who are talking about what they're growing and what they're doing. Jim, you're invited to come down and look with us.
Jim: Yes, I was thinking that. What's that date again, Kim?
Kim: July, 21st. It's running from 10:00 to 3:00. It's free. There's free parking. Come in, scroll around, look at the flowers, talk to the people, take home some information, and call it a day. July 21, come on down.
Jim: Well, I should do that.
Jeff: That's Amber Barnes. She was on one of our earlier podcasts, the pollinator partnership will be there as well. She can answer the garden query.
Kim: There you go. She's got three of them up there.
Jim: Well you see, what I want to do is I want to grow flowers, but I don't really want to be a gardener, so there's a difference. I can't take on a full-blown flat-out garden project and then keep bees and keep six grandkids too.
Kim: Actually, you can. The nice thing about pollinator gardens we found is that they're pretty self-maintaining. Once you get the bed prepared and you get them planted, you step back and get out of the way and let the insects that are going to visit do their thing during the summer and then come fall, you mow it down and leave all of the mowing sitting right on the pollinator garden, so any seeds in there are able to take root and get out of the way next spring.
Jim: Well, that sounds easy enough to do. Of course, I and everybody else on this planet has a mower. I've already got that. I'm good to go.
Kim: [chuckles] There you go. All right, Jim, this has been great.
Jeff: It's been wonderful.
Kim: I got to talk a little bit about where you've been, and where you've come from, and what you were doing, and where you're headed. Any final words?
Jim: No, I want to just hammer one more thought. That we're in a good time, we're in a good place right now. Any beekeeper who listens to this, or any beekeeper who gets wind of this conversation, we're in a real good place right now. It's a good time to be in bees. It's really enjoyable, remarkably rewarding.
Jeff: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much, Jim, for joining us today, and look forward to having you back in the future.
Jim: Thank you so much for having me at all.
Jeff: Thank you. You bet. Take care. Bye-bye.
Kim: Thanks, Jim.
Jim: Bye-bye. See you, Kim. Bye.
Jeff: I was really happy that we were able to get Jim on the phone today to talk about his experiences in beekeeping and teaching, and he's always a good storyteller.
Kim: Yes, he is. If you like listening to Jim too, what you need to do is listen to the Kim and Jim show webinars that we have sponsored by Bee Culture Magazine. We've got two coming up in July. We've got one on-- I'm looking at the calendar here, we've got one on the 25th, and one on the 11th, I'm doing it backwards. The 11th one, Jim and I are talking to the board of directors of Project Apis m. On the 25th, Jim and I are going to his bee yard to take a look at those packages that we put in way back in May when we got them, and we're going to see how they're doing. Since it's live and it's a webinar, you get to see Jim through his vineyard.
Jeff: Oh, that'd be-- I tuned in to one of those in the springtime or was it in the fall and it was raining? That seemed like you can never count on the good weather and good technology happening when you need it.
Kim: Yes, if it's raining, we're going to stand in the garage door and look at his bee yard, we're just not going to go out there.
Jeff: Well, it'd be interesting because both packages I put in this year, they both swarm. We need to have a podcast one of these days on eight-frame equipment and maybe learning [crosstalk]
Kim: Now you are speaking my language. Eight frame, all right.
Jeff: Well, speaking of questions. I think that would be a great opportunity if any of our listeners have any questions for any of our interviewees, or any beekeeping questions in general. Write them in and we will get the right people to reply, so send your questions to email@example.com.
Kim: What was that address?
Jeff: Yes, good question, firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll route them to the right people and get your answer on a future podcast. What do you think about all this, Kim?
Kim: Well, it was fun talking to Jim today, but then, it always is. It's been over three decades since we first met, and not surprisingly, a lot has changed in that time. Notably, I think, the evolution of how each of us approaches our respective jobs. When he first started at Ohio State university Extension, like all rookies, he was on fire, willing to tackle any challenge, climb every mountain and swim every ocean. When Mark Bruner, then the editor of Gleanings in Bee Culture approached him to write on a regular basis, Jim jumped at the chance.
He brought a different perspective to the magazine. After all, he was from Alabama of all places, but his home fun stories, comments and idealism, along with solid beekeeping information worked for our readers then and still does today. Not long after he started there, he was appointed extension specialist for the USDA, dealing with the newly introduced Africanized honey bee. Overnight, he was almost always on a plane to somewhere, talking about what those killer bees might mean to beekeepers and to folks who didn't keep bees but might be impacted because they were here.
He taught a commercial beekeeping class, many basic beekeeping courses, and a host of other subjects dealing with that craft over the years. Along with just being the regular extension agent, answering beekeeping questions to anybody who wanted information. After only ten years on the job, varroa changed the rules of the game and the way he taught beekeepers to keep bees. It has changed all of us, I'm afraid. Probably the biggest change, however, is how he embraced new technology, probably more so than most in his position. Early on, he did a series of training videos for Ohio State Extension. Then he and I did several videos together on raising queens, assembling equipment and the like.
Then he and John Grafton did a series for Ohio State Beekeepers, and now he's my partner on the Kim and Jim Show webinars we produce. Today he's on his first podcast. It's been a long but productive road from rural Alabama to a podcast in Ohio, and we're glad he took the journey. Jeff, that's Beekeeping Today.
Jeff: Well, that about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple podcast. Wherever you download and stream the show, your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any web page. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American Beekeeping, for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. We want to thank our regular episode sponsor, Global Patties. Check them email@example.com.
Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to thank Better Bee for their long-time support. Check out all their great beekeeping email@example.com. Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of Bee Books Old New with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at nothernbeebooks.co.uk. Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener, for joining us on this show. Feel free to leave us comments and questions at leave a comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot everybody.
[00:44:39] [END OF AUDIO]
Cohost, Author, PhD
Dr. James E. Tew is an Emeritus Faculty member at The Ohio State University. Jim is also retired from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. During his forty-eight years of bee work, Jim has taught classes, provided extension services, and conducted research on honey bees and honey bee behavior.
He contributes monthly articles to national beekeeping publications and has written: Beekeeping Principles, Wisdom for Beekeepers, The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver, and Backyard Beekeeping. He has a chapter in The Hive and the Honey Bee and was a co-author of ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture. He is a frequent speaker at state and national meetings and has traveled internationally to observe beekeeping techniques.
Jim produces a YouTube beekeeping channel, is a cohost with Kim Flottum on the Honey Bee Obscura podcast, and has always kept bee colonies of his own.